Pirate Bay: a guilty verdict is an attack on the Internet

3 03 2009


The Pirate Bay trial wrapped up today in Sweden as the defendants gave their closing statements; the verdict is currently scheduled for April 17th. In the meantime, “I think we’re going to go party,” said defendant Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi in a brief press conference after the trial.

The Pirate Bay website was down yesterday after power failures at one of its data centers, but defendant Fredrik Neij brought it back online today from within the court, even as the four lawyers stood one by one to defend the legality of the site.

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This week in review … India moves to protect traditional medicines

3 03 2009

India Moves to Protect Traditional Medicines

ICTSD, 25 February 2009

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND: The Indian government has effectively licensed 200,000 local treatments as “public property”, making the local remedies free for everyone to use, but not to be branded for sale. This initiative follows the startling discovery by scientists in Delhi of the extent of “bio-prospecting” of natural remedies by foreign companies. The UK’s Guardian newspaper reports that an investigation of government records revealed that 5,000 patents had been issued, at a cost of at least US$ 150 million for “medical plants and traditional systems.” “More than 2,000 of these belong to the Indian systems of medicine,” claims Vinod Kumar Gupta, head of the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library … The move to protect traditional medicines in India mirrors a push that New Delhi, supported by countries such as Brazil, Cuba, Kenya, the EU, Pakistan and Switzerland, has made at the WTO in recent years. Specifically, the countries have demanded that the protection of biodiversity and associated traditional knowledge be integrated into the WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, or TRIPS Agreement. Read the article …

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Prosecution rests case against “wealthy” Pirate Bay admins

2 03 2009


The Pirate Bay trial (mercifully) began its wrap-up today, with closing statements from prosecutor Hakan Roswall and the entertainment industry lawyers who are simultaneously pressing their cases. Roswall spent his time recapping the case, and then asked the court to toss the defendants in a jail cell for one year—down from the two-year maximum that could have been requested.

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Kenneth Crews on WIPO study on library exceptions to copyright law

2 03 2009

Here’s a quick interview with Kenneth Crews, who prepared the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Study on Copyright Limitations and Exceptions for Libraries and Archives for its Seventeenth Session in Geneva, November 3 to 7, 2008.

Minow:  What sparked your interest in studying library exceptions to copyright law around the world?

Crews: I was invited by the World Intellectual Property Organization to undertake this study.

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Tenenbaum file-swapping case gets seriously funky

27 02 2009


While the bizarre antics and odd courtroom proceedings of The Pirate Bay trial in Sweden have dominated news recently, another high-profile file-sharing case on this side of the Atlantic has generated plenty of recent craziness, too. And this is craziness of a special breed—how many federal trials involve a defense attorney who previously represented the judge, appeals to the Department of Justice to intervene, a lengthy hearing about whether a trial can be webcast to the world, and a judicial admonition to lawyers about taping each other’s conversations?

Graduate student Joel Tenenbaum faces nearly a million dollars in possible fines after being sued by the RIAA. After first defending himself, federal judge Nancy Gertner hooked Tenenbaum up with Professor Charles Nesson of Harvard Law School. Nesson then deputized his law students to do most of the work in the case (see our in-depth profile of them). This was all atypical enough, but the case quickly got much weirder.

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Inside the U.S. WTO “Victory” Over China

26 02 2009
This billboard in Donguan, China encourages people not to sell pirated goods.

On January 26, the USTR announced an “important victory” in the recent World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute resolution panel regarding China’s compliance with the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). And even though most media coverage declared a win for the United States, it’s not quite that clear cut–it seems that China may have won as well. Is the ruling just all bark and no bite? After all, of the three separate issues at hand, the U.S. won on one, won on part, and lost on part of another, and lost on what was arguably the most important of the three. Having waded through the entire 135 pages of the WTO Panel’s decision myself, here is a more accurate look at what actually transpired in the dispute.

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Website Not Sufficient to Create Personal Jurisdiction

26 02 2009

Richter v. INSTAR Enterprises Int’l, Inc., No. 08 C 50026, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jan. 23, 2009) (Kapala, J.).

Judge Kapala granted defendant INSTAR’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2) motion to dismiss plaintiff’s copyright infringement claims for lack of personal jurisdiction. INSTAR did not have sufficient contacts with Illinois for general jurisdiction. INSTAR did not maintain offices or otherwise regularly do business in Illinois. Its contacts with Illinois were: 1) its interactive website; and 2) INSTAR’s customer’s resale of its products within Illinois. Additionally, INSTAR produced undisputed evidence that less than .1% of its business came from Illinois and that none of the accused products were sold directly into Illinois.
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Political pirates: A history of Sweden’s Piratpartiet

26 02 2009


Rick Falkvinge is the face and voice of the Swedish Pirate Party, the party that he founded in 2006, but being a pirate isn’t all gold doubloons and chests of booty. Falkvinge is a principled pirate—and that means working for the sake of the cause even when the pay is low, or nonexistent. He currently takes no salary for his work, but he gets along by finding supporters willing to donate toward the costs of his food and rent.

Limited resources don’t mean he’s thinking small, though. Indeed, he wants to (democratically) take over the world, and he has a plan.

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Norway gets net neutrality—voluntary, but broadly supported

25 02 2009


“Nettnøytralitet” is coming to Norway. Several ISPs, the Norwegian Post and Telecommunications Authority, the Nowegian Cable TV Association, and consumer groups have all signed on today to a new document (PDF) outlining network neutrality principles. Internet users are entitled to a connection with “predefined capacity and quality,” and they can access content without discrimination based on the sending or receiving address. But there are some terrific caveats.

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Norway Education Minister: there’s no future in fighting P2P

24 02 2009


Noncommercial file sharing should be legal in Norway, according to the Norwegian Minister of Education. Bård Vegar Solhjell wrote in a blog post last week that file sharing is not only a great way to discover new music, but that “there is no future in fighting” against file sharing services.

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